Monrovia, Indiana

2019-10-22T16:27:46+00:00Categories: Docs in Review|

Monrovia, Indiana Director/ Frederick Wiseman Watched on Kanopy Rating 1/5   Monrovia, Indiana is either the most boring film Frederick Wiseman has ever made or it is the most subversive. This chronicle of the day-to-day life of a small midwestern town (population about one thousand, according to a 2010 census) is so devoid of visual interest, color, or even the most modest of dramatic material, I wondered if the director may have asked himself at some point why he was even bothering to continue to film. Or did he discern something in the enervating footage that commented on the divisiveness of our country, a willingness of small-town people to embrace the ho-hum pattern of their daily rituals as a kind of stubborn stand against the coastal elites? It’s hard to tell. I once sat through a 90-minute workshop Wiseman conducted at a documentary film conference in which he showed a lengthy clip from his early film Welfare and then proceeded to describe–in head-scratching detail–the clip we all just watched, without any insight, reflection, or behind-the-scenes revelations. It was as if we were all blind and deaf and hadn’t just viewed the clip he then laboriously described. It was weird. And it confirmed for me my problem with Wiseman and the adoring critics who elaborately praise his unvarnished, marathon-length films of the past couple decades: there isn’t a scrap of subtext to his movies; no subtle allusions or metaphorical conclusions to be inferred. Wiseman might be the least captivating living legend working today. Professionally, he is the [...]